Beer trays were a common promotional item for decades and are highly collectable today.

4 Milwaukee Brands That Are Gone But Not Forgotten

These bygone brands speak to Milwaukee’s industrial history.

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1. Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co.

When the last tractor came off the assembly line at Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co.’s factory in West Allis in December 1985, a sign accompanying it read: “That’s all, folks. The end.” The agriculture machinery giant once employed 17,000 workers at the sprawling manufacturing complex, but only about 100 remained when production came to a halt. The company then filed for bankruptcy and tried to stay afloat through various desperate measures but closed its West Allis office in 1999.


2. A. Gettelman Brewing Co.

Begun in Milwaukee in 1856, Gettelman operated in the shadows of Schlitz, Pabst, Miller and Blatz, but still slung suds for over a century. It was sold to Miller Brewing Co. in 1961, and you could no longer “Get Get Gettelman” after 1970, when its production was rolled into Miller’s. Gettelman’s most popular brand, Milwaukee’s Best, is still produced by Molson Coors Beverage Co., Miller’s corporate parent today. It demolished Gettelman’s original three-story malt building but preserved a house on the property that dates to Gettelman’s founding.


3. Bucyrus

When industrial behemoth Caterpillar purchased South Milwaukee-based Bucyrus International in 2011 for $8.8 billion, it immediately began scrubbing away the heavy mining equipment manufacturer’s then 118-year history here. Caterpillar continues to operate a scaled-down manufacturing operation in South Milwaukee, but the well-known and highly respected Bucyrus brand has disappeared. A museum expected to open late this year will honor the company’s heritage.


4. Buell Motorcycle Co.

Ex-Harley-Davidson engineer Erik Buell launched Buell Motorcycle Co. in 1983, producing sport motorcycles that traditionally appealed to younger riders. Harley-Davidson purchased a 49% stake in Buell in 1993 and took full ownership in 1998 before discontinuing the brand a decade later.


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s April issue. 

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Rich Rovito is a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine.